The Life and Times of Liv, the Quicken Loans Chat Bot
By Chad Atwell, Product Owner, Quicken Loans
At less than two years old, Liv, the youngest team member at Quicken Loans, is already making a huge impact, but when I joined the team, she was still just an idea.
The Quicken Loans Consumer Artificial Intelligence (AI) team formed in 2017, with the goal of making life easier for our clients. In the summer of 2018, we set out to create an AI chat bot, now known as Liv, which we knew had potential to create an amazing client experience.
“Keeping in line with the Quicken Loans culture, our goal was always to empower clients and to build technology that aligns with that goal,” said Tendo Lukwago, a Software Engineer on the Consumer AI team. “So, we’re always looking at new innovations that will help us deliver the best possible client experience for the people we serve.”
Our ultimate goal was to create a chat bot that allows clients to get help and answers from Quicken Loans at any time, and from any device.
“Chat bots are an easier way to consume information,” Lukwago said. “We knew it would be a long task to get a bot to the level that it was ready for our clients, but once we hit that, we knew the impact would be huge — and that’s going to solidify our position in the industry.”
Choosing a Machine Learning Computing System for a Chat Bot
Before we could build, we had a lot of research to do. We spent the first half of 2018 talking to all the major players in the bot space, including Amazon, Google and IBM.
“We wanted to make sure we were partnering with a company who was our equal in terms of delivering technological innovations that are focused on the client,” said Chris Olah, Product Owner on Consumer AI.
We knew we wanted a dependable cloud-based solution, and we wanted to be able to quickly stand up new bots or quickly make changes to existing ones. After several months of vetting, we decided to build our bot using Watson, an AI and conversational design tool from IBM.
How a Chat Bot Drives an Amazing Client Experience
Although the early version of the bot would be focused on new clients from the web, Liv could eventually grow to represent Quicken Loans on every medium clients use, such as Facebook or iMessage, and serve existing clients already logged in with a Rocket account.
Knowing Liv’s enormous potential, we wanted to ensure that the technology stack could grow with our vision. The decision was made to host our bot on Amazon’s cloud. This would let us quickly scale services while remaining adaptable to adding new channels for Rockelle in the future.
Liv’s first function was to replace the pre-chat survey (PCS). Prior to chatting with a banker, clients were required to fill out their state, purpose and a few other details inside this static form. Liv’s first task would be to replace that form on the Quicken Loans website, a task the team knew could have immediate impact on the client experience. Instead of completing fields on a form or using drop-down boxes, Liv would gather the data from clients using a natural conversation.
“We didn’t want our clients’ first interaction with us to be boring, filling out a form,” said Jake Kuznicki, a Senior Software Engineer on the Consumer AI team. “We knew that a conversational experience would out-perform the traditional experience of a static web lead form. Clients want to use their own words and language to interact with us.”
In November 2018, we launched Liv as a pilot test on QuickenLoans.com. Our new bot quickly began to outperform the old survey it replaced. Using Liv, more clients were routed to bankers than ever before.
“I knew right away that clients were going to love this, and I was excited to be involved,” said Ajay Delarosa, a former Chat Banker who did some of the early testing. “It was an improvement over the old form, and it really fit with the Quicken Loans culture of being a Technology company first.”
After the success of Liv’s pilot, we knew it was time to expand her reach.
Liv was upgraded to route clients to the Client Relations team, ensuring a better client experience and saving valuable time for bankers. Building on that same framework, Liv was also upgraded to connect clients with live team members in Communications and Servicing.
Liv was gradually rolled to more visitors on QuickenLoans.com, and nearly all chat traffic was directed to the bot by March 2019. For the first time, Quicken Loans clients were able to connect with multiple parts of the company without first going through a human.
As the expanded pilot continued to demonstrate the success of Liv, we were ready to keep pushing the bot’s potential.
Liv was able to transfer clients to the right team member to answer their questions, but what if Liv was able to answer those questions itself?
In April 2019, we began rolling out Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) into Liv’s dialog. Working directly with business partners in Servicing, Client Relations and Communications, we identified what type of questions clients ask most frequently.
Many of the questions had easy answers, such as “What’s the Quicken Loans fax number?” and “Where do I upload documents?”
“Each of those interactions would have potentially been with a human agent, and instead clients are able to answer their own questions immediately, 24 hours a day, or on holidays,” Olah said.
Soon, Liv will be accessible in more places. Clients can already connect with Liv on Apple Business Chat, and the team has started working on integrations with Facebook.
“We’re enabling clients to contact us instantly, 24/7, effortlessly, without a web app, without a mobile app and without calling us,” Olah said. “It’s exciting, because clients are going to see Quicken Loans as we lead the mortgage industry in the artificial intelligence space.”
Want to meet Liv? You can chat with Liv yourself by going to QuickenLoans.com.
Editor’s note: Since publication of this story, the chatbot’s name was changed from Rockelle to Liv. This story has been updated accordingly.
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These opinions are those of the author. Unless noted otherwise in this post, Quicken Loans is not affiliated with, nor is it endorsed by any of the companies mentioned. All trademarks and other intellectual property used or displayed are the ownership of their respective owners. This article is © 2020 Quicken Loans.